'People will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money but this is not an election budget' - Varadkar
NEXT Tuesday's Budget will not be presented with one eye on a general election, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted.
As he arrived for Fine Gael's annual Presidential Dinner in Dublin tonight, the Taoiseach said people will be able to keep "more of their hard-earned money" in 2019.
He promised that pension and welfare cutbacks that were inflicted on people during the austerity years would be fully reversed.
It was put to Mr Varadkar that the flow of good news emanating from the Department of Finance, including an unexpected €1bn corporation tax windfall, was pointing towards an election in the near future.
He replied: "I would see this budget as not an election budget. I would see it as a budget that is very much in line with budgetary and economic strategy of the last couple of years."
He said priorities are "to narrow the deficit and now eliminate it. To reverse some of the cutbacks that were made on pensions and welfare. We'll fully reverse the weekly payments in the budget next week."
Mr Varadkar added: "And with regards to easing the burden of income tax. Income tax and USC were brought in during austerity and it's been a process over the last couple of years to give people back more of their money.
"To allow them keep more of their hard-earned money and to invest in infrastructure and services. It's very much in line with previous budgets."